My favorite part about working at Gardens for Health in Rwanda is getting to witness firsthand the impact that our programs are having on communities and families. This Thanksgiving reminded me just how much we have to be grateful for. Nine months ago when I was in Rwanda, I met a mother named Venantie and her two-year-old son Imanirakoze. Venantie had just enrolled in our program after discovering that Imanirakoze weighed nearly ten pounds less than a healthy child his age. I instantly fell in love with Imanirakoze. Despite his malnutrition, he was playful and friendly with the other children. As I spoke with Venantie, he peeked out from behind his mother’s legs and gave me a shy smile. We all knew that he and Venantie had a long journey ahead of them, but when Venantie speaks about the future, she is the definition of hope and determination. She made us all feel optimistic.
This Thanksgiving I wasn’t sure whether Venantie would be there. I was surprised and delighted when I turned around to see a beaming Venantie with that distinctive proud gleam in her eye.
She looked the same as when I first met her, but as Imanirakoze stepped out from behind his mom I saw that he looked different. He was 8 months older; his cheeks looked fuller and his eyes had a shine to them that brightened my day. Throughout the celebration he ran and played with the other children, never letting Venantie out of his sight.
|It is moments like this that truly define my experience working for Gardens for Health in Rwanda, and I hear it echoed in the stories of my coworkers. They say that that seeing a child improve is what motivates them and gives them the energy to continue their incredibly challenging work.|
I am grateful to be a part of this team, and I’m thankful to be a part of this organization that, like a family around a table, offers genuine compassion and an active partnership to those who need it.